"Living Wage" campaign wants your life"We can help people at the bottom end of the economic strata in a city like Boulder and should," says a representative of the Boulder Living Wage Campaign in Monday's Colorado Daily. Advocates of the Welfare State have been very successful with this type of argument. It implies to things: First, if you oppose the living wage legislation, then you obviously do not care about the poor. Second, their method of improving society is so good that it should be a law, and hence a crime not to contribute to their cause. The argument is wrong on both counts.
Boulder residents are proud of their social activism aimed at making the world a better place. There are countless groups of volunteers dedicated to a variety of causes: poverty, environmental issues, domestic violence, civil liberties, stopping Drug Prohibition and victim disarmament, immigrant rights, abortion issues, etc. For each of these causes, there are local and national non-profit organizations that ask us to support their cause, with our time or money. Because they are, in a sense, competing with other charities, they have to prove their effectiveness and efficiency in achieving their goals. Otherwise, the truly caring and socially responsible citizens of Boulder would fund truly worthwhile non-profits.
But the "Living Wage" campaign is different. Instead of creating a voluntary charity, they want to use the strong-arm of the government to rob one group of people and give it to another. "Living wage could cost $1 million," reads the Daily headline. That money will come from taxpayers' pockets. Why should the "Living Wage Charity" have this unfair advantage over all the other charities in Boulder, and in the country for that matter?
Boulder residents also value tolerance and diversity. But is it tolerant for the "living wage" campaigners to force us to fund their charity? How will this effect the diversity of ways Boulder residents seek to improve the world? Why not set up a charity to raise money for city employees? If a city employee earns, say, $5 per hour less than what the charity thinks is fair, they "Living Wage Charity" will raise money to pay the difference. If this is such a good cause, many Boulder residents would gladly help out. Sure, some will choose not to; they might instead contribute to another charity, or "selfishly" invest the money in a profitable business that creates new jobs and technologies that makes life better for everyone.
The question is: Whose choice is it? What if governments took over all charitable organizations? Politics would become a way for one group to impose its notion of virtue upon everyone else. In fact, it already is. Is it compassionate to spend other people's money? If you help someone, not because you choose to, but to avoid punishment, does such tax-slavery breed caring, or resentment?
At your job, you trade part of your life, your property, for money. With this money you may buy food, to sustain your life. But what's at the bottom of the receipt? Sales tax. That's part of your life. If the "living wage" advocates have their way, it will be theirs, and you have no choice.